Tech Company Officials Meet With Obama Officially About Healthcare.gov, But Focus On NSA Surveillance Instead

from the good-to-see dept

It came out yesterday that President Obama was scheduled to meet privately with a group of "tech" execs officially about the status of the healthcare.gov website. However, as some expected, it appeared that the meeting focused much more on the NSA's overreach and the need for reforms. While somewhat disappointing that the meeting was held privately, it looks like the execs made it clear that the NSA surveillance efforts were doing a lot more harm than good and something needed to change.
Schmidt, of Google, opened the meeting and laid out industry officials' concerns. Obama seemed sympathetic to the idea of allowing more disclosure of government surveillance requests by technology companies, according to a tech industry official who was briefed on the meeting. The official asked to remain anonymous because the meeting was private.

Mayer, the Yahoo! executive, brought up concerns about the potentially negative impact that could be caused if countries, such as Brazil, move forward with legislation that would require service providers to ensure that data belonging to a citizen of a certain country remain in the country it originates, the official said.

That would require technology companies to build data centers in each country — a costly problem for American Internet companies, the official said. The White House noted in a statement after the meeting that the group discussed the "economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures."
We've been saying since the Snowden leaks first came out that the tech industry needed to be a lot more vocal about how bad the NSA's actions are for pretty much everyone, so it's good to see at least some effort to continue to push that story. Of course, the list of attendees also includes AT&T's Randall Stephenson -- and AT&T has been one of the companies most complicit in the NSA's activities, something the company refuses to talk about, and unlike the actual tech companies, seems completely unwilling to address.


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  1.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Dec 17th, 2013 @ 3:14pm

    "The official asked to remain anonymous because the meeting was private. "

    I hope this official realises that the NSA already knows who he is. All they need is location data from the mobile phones of both all the people who were in the meeting with Obama and US Today's journalists, and see which one was in close proximity with the journo.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 4:13pm

    I think you can sum up the entire problem with one quote:

    "economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures."

    Super glad to know that the problem is that people know about it, not that it's being done.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 4:44pm

    Re:

    I was just about to point out that as well. Yeah, let's blame the disclosures and not the acts that prompted the disclosures.

    This administration is utterly beyond redemption at this point, they are so reflexively and inherently dishonest. Each time they open their collective mouths, the sewage spills forth in a torrent.

     

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  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 4:48pm

    "it looks like" like SHEER PR, utterly unverifiable.

    For all you know, Obama said, "So, whatta we doin' here?"

    To which Schmidt (dressed in SS uniform) replied: "World domination, Barky, just like every other day."

    But wherever Google is, Mike sees only good and is eager to push the propaganda line, when he doesn't KNOW any more than I do! -- By the way, notice that Mike largely only re-writes after endorsed by the "official" organs: NYTimes, Washington Post, NPR here?

    Masnicking: daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items.

    12:48:04[n-305-4]

     

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  5.  
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    Rosco P Coltrane (profile), Dec 17th, 2013 @ 4:52pm

    What representation

    Hmmm. Not being able to disclose government requests and the potential need for opening data centers in multiple countries... Yeah those would be 2 of my top issues, too.

    Boy do my interests feel represented by these CEOs. Glad we're all on the same page,

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 4:58pm

    I bet the AT&T exec felt pretty isolated in that room. It wouldn't surprise me if Randall Stephenson, sat quietly in his chair during the whole meeting, and let the other executives do all the talking.

    Executives who's companies depend on revenue from the international marketplace, and don't hold a near total monopoly over an entire domestic market. Such as AT&T, Verison, Sprint, T-Mobile and... well that's about 95% of the US's mobile phone carrier market.

    Everyone else in that room, on the other hand, actually have to compete against more than one or two competitors in the marketplace.

    These mobile phone carriers know they have Americans by the balls. There's nowhere else for customers to turn to for mobile phone service.

    All the major telcos have been granted "retroactive immunity" from the 4th Amendment, and they're now cashing in our personal information for more profits. Until we strip the unconstitutional "retroactive immunity" clause pass in 2008 for telcos, their behavior will never change.


    The telcos will continue to cash-in on our personal information, and continue flipping us the silent middle-finger because they know if people want cellphones, they have very few mobile carriers to choose from.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 5:01pm

    Their issues is with appearance cutting into profits.

    That is not exactly what the public's issues are. Their issues are that it is occurring at all.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 5:02pm

    Re:

    Anonymity/privacy is becoming a privilege.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 5:23pm

    Private Meeting ..5 Minutes of Press

    This was a meeting about the ruling yesterday by U.S. District Judge Richard Leons's saying the NSAs bulk collection of metadata.. phone records of the time and numbers called without any disclosure of content apparently violates privacy rights.. Don't let them fool you they want to make sure they won't be held liable for doing the same ..and to make sure they will be after the ruling allowed to continue collecting data on everyone around the world ..

     

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  10.  
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    Jim B., Dec 17th, 2013 @ 5:31pm

    They were off topic, so let's stay off

    Let's just ask him/them how much more we pay due to the excessive NSA bandwidth usage needed to transfer all our private information. When the ISPs complain shall we not just point in the NSAs direction?

     

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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 5:35pm

    Alignment

    Telling, how disparate the initial positions are. Obama protecting the status quo and the 'Execs' talking about coffee and smelling and maybe a rose or two.

    I recently heard that Obama was going to talk about NSA and such in January, and conveniently scheduled the State of the Union speech for late in that month.

    I smell spin. I smell a half solution. I smell a really bent State of the Union address where Obama apologies and allows half remedies.

    This is not over, not by a long shot. Maybe there is enough here to wake up the sleeping populace, however, I have my doubts.

    Hell, from this group, if I were Edward Snowden, I would not trust a full presidential pardon, along with a resolution from congress, next to sworn statements from each and every federal law enforcement individual, including but not limited to every janitor at the Justice Department, and a cashiers check for $10 million.

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Dec 17th, 2013 @ 6:32pm

    Wrong term...

    "economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures" should have been ""economic impacts of unconstitutional intelligence gathering"...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, as you so adeptly pointed out, I think it is safe to say that this is totally isolated within the present administration. Other branches of government are completely devoid of responsibility here and therefore should not be held accountable. Booyah!

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 7:37pm

    Re: Alignment

    I would not trust them either, given their record to date.

    The demand for conditional amnesty is his full co-operation along with ALL THE DATA which the news outlets now have. He can't guarantee that. I suspect what that has to do with is removing the dead man switch which is what they are actually worried about.

    Once it is gone, he's a dead man walking.

     

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  15.  
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    Lou, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 7:57pm

    You might want to check on your story there Sparky, the meeting was supposed to be about the NSA but the Great One lectured about the website, ya got it turn around..on purpose?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 10:13pm

    Read an article on this earlier in the day.

    The meeting was 2 hours and 45 minutes long. The first 45 minutes did not include Biden and Obama but was indeed about the website and it's problems dealing with ACA. However, the next 2 hours was about the NSA. Biden and Obama wanted to talk ACA website, no one else in the room was interested in ACA but rather they wanted to talk about Obama dropping the boom on the NSA because it was affecting their bottom lines. That is all but AT&T CEO which didn't have anything to say about that.

    At the end, Obama wanted to paint it as a meeting dealing with the website of the ACA with one small mention of security matters being brought up, rather than the total meeting while he was present dealt with that errrr.... "security issue".

     

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  17.  
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    ethorad (profile), Dec 18th, 2013 @ 12:48am

    Re: What representation

    Um, the CEOs aren't there to represent your interests. They are there to represent their company's interests. There's only an intersection to the extent that they need to pander to your interests to gain your business.

    Now your senator however, they *should* be representing your interests ...

     

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  18.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 18th, 2013 @ 1:00am

    Re:

    You might want to check on your story there Sparky, the meeting was supposed to be about the NSA but the Great One lectured about the website, ya got it turn around..on purpose?

    All of the initial reports I saw said that Healthcare.gov was the main purpose of the meeting. It was quickly noted that the tech companies wanted to talk about surveillance, but it was setup as a meeting about the ACA.

     

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  19.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 18th, 2013 @ 2:32am

    Re: Re: Alignment

    The 'offer' is a PR trick, used constantly in politics, and not even a very complex trick at that.

    It goes as follows:

    1) Offer a 'generous' but impossible to meet condition to the other person in exchange for something(in this case 'limited amnesty').

    2) When the other person naturally refuses, either from an unwillingness to meet your condition, or an inability to do so, claim that this merely shows that they are unwilling to work with you, refusing to budge on their position.

    This allows you to both paint them in a negative light as someone 'unwilling to compromise', and make yourself look better as the one who so 'generously' made the offer in the first place.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2013 @ 5:52am

    Please feel free to correct me if I am mistaken, but I have understood since the commencement of NSAGate that the concern centered around the 4th Amendment. What the 4th Amendment has to do with extraterritorial matters involving other than US citizens is not altogether clear.

     

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